Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services--Health Services

Committee Director

Clare Houseman

Committee Member

Lindsay Rettie

Committee Member

Stacey Plichta

Committee Member

Gail Taylor


The purpose of this study was to explore the diversity climate in a large teaching military hospital by assessing the perceptions of employees regarding the organizational climate, including aspects of the climate related to ethnicity, gender, age, physical ability, sexual orientation, and job level. All 3,176 eligible employees based in the medical center were invited to participate, 1,252 did so (RR = 40%). Participants were 37% minority, 57% females, 25% officer, 30% enlisted, and 45% civilian. Twenty-four percent were at the managerial level. Perceptions of the diversity climate were measured using the Diversity Survey Instrument (the reliability and validity of this instrument has been established in previous studies).

Overall, 28% of the organization rated the overall climate as less than favorable on diversity issues; in particular, 16% rated the climate as less than favorable for ethnic minorities, 13% rated the climate as less than favorable for women, and 51% rated the climate as less favorable for people in lower job levels. Males had significantly more favorable perceptions toward organization climate, ethnicity climate, gender climate, and job level climate, than females. Whites had significantly more favorable perceptions toward the organization climate, ethnicity climate, job climate, and gender climate than non-Whites. There is a significant difference in the perceptions of civilians, officers, and enlisted staff members toward organization climate, based on salaries, with officers and civilians in the pay categories of 05-07 and GS 13-15, having the most favorable perceptions, and civilians in the paygrades of GS 5-8, W2-W3, WG 5-8, WG 9-12, and WD/WL 5-8, having the least favorable perceptions. Qualitative data also indicate that White males may feel left out or excluded from activities aimed at increasing acceptance of diversity in the organization.

The formal overall diversity climate ratings on all dimensions measured are favorable (except job level and sexual orientation), but answers to questions about the informal climate reveal that there are problem areas that must be addressed. Such as, 45% rated the organization climate as less than favorable concerning hearing offensive remarks about women, 38% rated the organization climate as less than favorable for hearing offensive remarks about minorities, 81% agreed that some (employees) are given preferential treatment and 75% believe that favoritism is shown toward some job levels. Before health care organizations devise effective diversity management strategies, it is necessary to determine the diversity climate of the organization. Surveying employees' perceptions about management's current effectiveness allows an understanding of the needs and dissatisfactions of employees within different organizational subgroups. Using the results from the assessment of the diversity climate may allow for effective management strategies and policies.